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Eat Disord. 2011 Mar-Apr;19(2):156-74. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2010.511909.

Number of different purging behaviors used among women with eating disorders: psychological, behavioral, self-efficacy and quality of life outcomes.

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  • 1Park Nicollet Melrose Institute, St Louis Park, Minnesota, USA.


The objective of this study was to examine differences between a number of different purging behaviors used and outcome measures among eating disorder patients. Among 211 females who received inpatient or partial hospitalization eating disorder treatment, analyses of covariance and cross-tabulations identified associations among a number of different purging behaviors (vomiting, laxative use, diuretic use) used and psychological, behavioral, self-efficacy and quality of life measures at follow-up. Most patients (80.1%) reported purging for weight control. Use of different purging behaviors was significantly associated at follow-up with lower self-esteem, greater depression, higher state and trait anxiety, higher BMI, poorer self-efficacy for normative eating and body image, compromised quality of life, greater dietary restraint, and eating, shape and weight concerns. Furthermore, a higher percentage of those who used purging behaviors met criteria for a subthreshold or threshold eating disorder at follow-up compared to their non-purging peers. Eating disorder patients who use different purging behaviors are more compromised at follow-up than patients who do not purge. Due to the severe medical complications associated with different purging behaviors, future research should address best practices for clinical intervention and prevention.

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